Tips to Better Manage Legal Fees

By Denise Johnson | August 28, 2015

It’s important that adjusters review bills not only based on cost but also on value, says Kevin Quinley, founder and principal of Quinley Risk Associates. In the latest Claims Insights podcast, he says adjusters shouldn’t be afraid to question charges or ask for advance notice or pre-approval on larger billing items.

Managing legal costs is an important skillset, according to Quinley, who says adjusters shouldn’t be afraid to ask for fee discounts, “it never hurts to ask.”

Upon receipt of a legal bill, the adjuster should review it for inconsistencies.

Budgets are useful, he says, in order to evaluate whether to continue litigation or settle a case. In addition, a budget helps an adjuster set reserves on a file and shows the attorney that the adjuster and carrier are cost conscious. He recommends getting them within the initial 60 days of a case.

A claims veteran with 38 years of experience, he suggests establishing early warning tripwires to help prevent nasty surprises that blow budgets and/or reserves. This can be done by hour or dollar threshold. He also recommends asking for advance notice on whopper bills.

Research, is a black hole of legal expenses, he says and a way for adjusters to better manage that aspect of cases that drive legal spend is by requiring pre-approval for legal or medical research. He suggests asking for the scope and rationale of such research before giving approval.

Some red flags that adjusters should be on the lookout for when reviewing legal invoices, include bills that are not itemized and bills that contain heavy charges for “read and review”, as well as unknown lawyers or teams billing on a case.

The best advice Quinley can give is to be pragmatic, rather than emotional when it comes to examining legal bills. He says it’s important not to “let emotion override reason.”

The claims consultant does recommended adjusters consider alternative dispute resolution as a way to resolve some claims, since court cases can take a long time and cost quite a bit of money.

A chief takeaway, he says is that while it’s important to be cost conscious, the value of the service is by far the most important goal to achieve.

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